Home > Physical Health > Understanding Acne

Understanding Acne

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 7 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Acne spots pimples treating Acne

Spots. Blemishes. Pimples. Zits. No matter what you call them, they're ugly! They also seem to wait until the worst possible moment to erupt- right before a big date, the day of an important exam, and the afternoon of an interview included. Everyone hates acne, but almost everyone must deal with it at some point. Thankfully with a little understanding acne shouldn't bee too hard to beat.

What Is Acne?

Acne is a disorder created when excess oil is trapped by a hair follicle and can not empty out of our skins' pores as normal. Instead, the oil builds up and forms a small plug in the pore which results in the spots that come out on our faces, necks, shoulders and even backs. Technically "acne" is an all-encompassing term for the number of different lumps and bumps including:

  • Blackheads - half-blocked pores that allow some waste to surface, react with air and turn dark in colour.
  • Cysts - painful, pus-filled bumps that can lead to scarring.
  • Nodules - red, hard bumps that are located under the skin.
  • Papules - small, pink inflammations that can be sore to touch.
  • Pustules - smaller inflammations that are filled with pus and topped with a white or yellow plug.
  • Whiteheads - pus-filled bumps that have a white top.

What are the Causes of Acne?

Scientists still don't truly know the origins of acne, but they can disprove common myths such as that it is caused by chocolate and chips. Most experts now agree that hormones (especially those that tell our glands to produce oily sebum) and heredity play a part in causing acne. There are some factors that can make acne worse, such as:

  • Using heavy, greasy skin care products that leave excess oil on the skin.
  • Wearing make up that doesn't let the skin breath.
  • Living in hot, humid areas where the skin has trouble secreting oils and sweat.
  • Air and water pollution that adds irritants to the skin.
  • Squeezing, popping or picking at existing acne.
  • Hormones associated with PMT and menstruation.
  • Birth control pills that alter hormonal cycles.
  • Prescription medications.
  • Stress.
  • Steroids.

How is Acne Diagnosed?

Most teenagers only need to look in the mirror to realise that they'll occasionally have an acne breakout. Some teenagers, however, will find that they have persistent acne that just won't go away. If you are concerned that acne is taking over your life, visit your GP for a professional opinion. (S)he will discuss how best to treat your skin in order to clear up existing acne and keep further breakouts at bay. (S)he may also refer you to a dermatologist if (s)he feels that a specialist should be consulted.

How is Acne Treated?

Minor acne flare ups can be treated safely and effectively at home by cleansing thoroughly, using an over the counter anti-acne medication and then moisturizing. When selecting an anti-acne treatment, look for a medication that contains either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Also make sure that you take a hands off approach to any spots that do appear because picking or squeezing them will just leave them open to infection and you'll risk scarring. More serious cases of acne may be treated in a number of ways. Your doctor may prescribe a cream or lotion loaded with acne fighters to get rid of harmful bacteria on your skin and loosen the blocked oil in your pores. Antibiotic tablets might also be prescribed to knock out bacteria before it can take hold in your system. Hormonal treatments are also an option for distressing cases of acne.

Acne could never be called attractive, but it doesn't have to ruin your life either. Mild outbreaks of acne are best kept clean, treated and then left alone. More serious acne outbreaks are better treated under the supervision of a GP or dermatologist. If you suffer from acne take heart - almost everyone will have experienced the same thing at some point!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Jt_.ly
    Re: Warning Signs of Self Harming
    Hi, my name is Jas. I’m in 6th grade and I’m 11 years old. Just about 3 weeks ago, I started cutting. I’ve been wanting to do so…
    26 March 2020
  • idk
    Re: Coping With Strict Parents
    I’m 14 my dad is really strict he doesn’t like me going out because he thinks I’ll get raped or assaulted by someone. he doesn’t like…
    23 March 2020
  • Abby
    Re: Coping With Strict Parents
    My parents are way too strict and its so embarrassing the way I get treated like a 10 year old when I am 15.It seems like I forever…
    9 March 2020
  • 1234
    Re: All about Abortion
    Hi I’m 14 nearly 15 and I’m almost a week late , I keep having cramps and very watery discharge with little blood in it I’m starting to think…
    2 March 2020
  • Keelan
    Re: Questionnaire: Are You Addicted to Social Networking Sites?
    Hello, My name is Keelan Spurrell and I am I 3rd year university student. I am currently…
    20 February 2020
  • Migz
    Re: Questionnaire: Are You Addicted to Social Networking Sites?
    Greetings, I am a Grade 10 student, of La Salle Green Hills, who is conducting a research…
    19 February 2020
  • honolulu
    Re: Teenage Pregnancy
    Hey I'm just 12 years old and I'm pregnant, but i don't care what the people say to me because I love my baby and my parents help me. I hope…
    17 February 2020
  • gina
    Re: How Can I Deal With My Over Protective Mum?
    I'm sorry about your dad, I have the same problem, but its my bestest friend. I totally get it, she thinks I'm…
    17 February 2020
  • tommygirl
    Re: Teenage Pregnancy
    Hey guys! I'm 13 years old and I'm pregnant with twins. I don't know what I should do but I'm searching for a baby sitter. Can you help me?
    17 February 2020
  • Claire.Benton
    Re: Coping With Strict Parents
    My parents are really strict. I never get any money and I basically cannot go out with friends anywhere. I am pressured to get…
    5 February 2020